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Angus and Julia Stone

Review

Note: Angus and Julia Stone's new album, Chocolates & Cigarettes, was released 2 October


Buy Chocolates & Cigarettes by Angus and Julia Stone at Amazon >>

Angus and Julia StoneIt's a cliche, but when Julia Stone says, "The great thing about family is that you kind of have to love them no matter what," it's pleasant to believe in such maudlin sentiments like that. Otherwise, these two might not have made it to London stages.

Immediately after the set begins, Angus and Julia begin taking turns. Julia will play a song like Here We Go Again, or Angus will play Paper Aeroplane. During one's song, the other sibling will fade into the background. Each of their songs is intensely personal, so the other can only stand by and help in small ways to express the emotion the other feels so strongly. Julia likens it to meditation: "You can't meditate with someone else and feel what they're feeling." They back each other up, certainly, but it's a bit like they're in a friendly game of one-upmanship.

Simply put, it means that both Angus and Julia have half of the play list under their respective thumbs. The pair has always kept song writing to themselves: "It's quite an intimate thing… I like curling up in a small place and writing a song," says Angus. On careful listening, their respective styles come out. Angus has much of his professed influence Ben Harper in his style and his presence on stage. His voice is soft and unaffected; unlike many male vocalists he sings in the same timbre that he speaks in. Though it did not appear on the album, his song No Boat No Aeroplane maximises this appeal; it's, in a word, exceptional.

This unpretentious style fits superbly with Julia's mild tone. She sounds a lot like the critical-darling Joanna Newsome, an up-and-coming harpist who Julia speaks of with more than a little reverence. Down to minutiae like style of dress and movement, these two minstrels are alike: they favour simple, classic dresses, and move to the music as though compelled to. It's clear that she's heard the comparison before, and even more obvious that she's a bit flattered by it.

The beginnings of the band were inauspicious. The two began playing early, spurred on by a musically inclined family. "Our dad's a band conductor, so he forced us both to take up a wind instrument," says Julia. They also remember their father's cover band, Backbeat: "They used to rehearse all the time in the garage. They're still available for parties," she says.

From there, they began playing gigs separately. After a while, the pair began to realise the benefits from joining forces, not least of which is being comfortable with one another: "With brother and sister, there isn't a lot of doubting or talking. It can just be what it is," says Julia. Almost immediately came the appellation ‘the Stones'. Not that there'd actually be much confusion, the pair decided on the simple "Angus and Julia Stone" moniker instead. Julia explains, "We kind of wanted to be called the Stones, but there was this other band…"

- Nicholas Carter


Buy Chocolates & Cigarettes by Angus and Julia Stone at Amazon >>






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